Can the internet improve politics? The question and answer are structured in a sequence of steps: (1) Politics is about counting, and the web is good at counting. (2) Politics counts evaluations, and the web is good at evaluations. (3) Political evaluations bear cognitive costs that need to be alleviated through trust, and the web is good at employing trust. (4) Political trust relations increasingly have a general network structure, and the web is good at networks. (5) Political trust relations need to be stored, and the web is good at storing sensitive data. Additionally, the availability to address large option numbers and offline access are addressed.
Contrary to aspects of e-democracy that are simply “nice to have”, steps 4 and 5 point to improvements that are necessary: The web allows for a network-based collective decision making that efficiently fits the necessities of societies that are no longer satisfied with the kind of representation that urges everyone to align to one group for all issues. Individualization and the cultural demands of non-Western societies go in the same direction in demanding a different and necessarily web-based solution to the cognitive-cost problem of democracy.
Billionaires sometimes develop strange ideas. Sometimes these strange ideas lead to new glory, but oftentimes they lead to nowhere, with overstrained advisors trying to limit the damage. Elon Musk, with his fastly emerged fortune, recently fascinated the world with the aim to settle on Mars. And he offered Mars as a solution to earthly problems – as an alternative for times when planet Earth would be uninhabitable through strife and war here.
What a pubertal fantasy!
Outer space is so cold and so hostile to life that for every simple screw to fix you need a space suit, a million dollar vehicle, and tons of fuel to burn. Within some decades, we may be able to save some twenty lives on Mars for the price of sacrificing twenty millions here on Earth. What a disgusting glory!
With only a tiny fraction of his fortune, Musk or any billionaire could help leading to individualized responsibility and hence to Kant’s eternal peace. But this would imply accepting a world in which everyone has their own dignity, even people who are not billionaires. This may be too elaborate for Musk.